By Mary Kelly
We often do not consider how seemingly insignificant choices lead to habits that have long-term consequences.
How we choose to spend our mental energy and physical time impacts us and those around us.
Lots of little decisions add up and create outcomes, so we must make sure we are making good choices, even about seemingly insignificant things.
A friend lamented that her recent flight was delayed by 4 hours, and she was upset that she lost those 4 hours. How did she lose those hours? Instead of working on a report with an upcoming deadline, which was an option, she watched movies. Why did she watch movies instead of working, even though she knew it was going to cause her to get behind with her work? “Because,” she said, “The delay was not my fault. I deserved the break.”
She felt as though that time somehow did not count because the delay was outside of her control. Instead of maximizing the time she had, she made the choice to try to relax. As a result, she wound up working on the report Sunday night before the Monday morning deadline. She time-sabotaged herself and it caused more stress later.
We make choices like this all the time. How can we be more mindful of our small choices so that we do not sabotage ourselves?
We sometimes think “this time does not matter.” The reality is that ALL time matters. It is up to us to decide how we spend our time, and that means not allowing external events, like flight delays, derail our focus.
People who are personally and professionally successful are always revisiting how they spend their time.
They are constantly asking:
“Is this the best use of my time?”
“Is this what I should to be doing?”
“Am I accomplishing what I want to accomplish with this activity?”
What we decide to do on a consistent basis determines our success.
1. Cultivate good daily habits. Create small daily habits that move your goals forward. It is easier to be disciplined when you have already made the decision to take the right action.
2. Plan to control your time. There will always be interruptions, distractions, and external forces that threaten to derail your schedule. Tasks are easier to accomplish with an action plan. What projects you need to work on within the week? Plan how to tackle them. It gives you control of the time you have and allows you to track your progress. There is less time wasted when you have a detailed plan for each day.
3. Work ahead of deadlines. Many people miss deadlines because they underestimate how long a project will take. They do not plan their work properly, they procrastinate, and then they are late. Set deadlines to avoid procrastination or the “I still have plenty of time to do this” attitude. Deadlines inspire action, improve productivity, and ensure you hit the target. Therefore, assign them to every goal and task. Doing this helps us work more efficiently toward the right results. When we map out projects and create due dates ahead of schedule, we gain that the sense of urgency, and then if there is a crisis, there is time to adjust.
4. Focus. Improving focus as a daily practice requires discipline and conscious decisions.
Decide to be more intentional about how you spend your time.
Decide to be productive.
Decide not to waste time.
Decide to ignore distractions (even the really irritating ones!) because it is better for you. Decide to not allow the actions of others to derail your decision to focus on what needs to happen.
5. Be very strategic with your time. You should know the activities that take you closer to your goals and schedule those activities in the day. If you do not run your day, your day will run you. When you take control of time and use it wisely, you free yourself up for new opportunities. The important activities get done. Having control of your time protects you from needless stress and allows you to plan for the success you want.
6. Monitor and evaluate. Be relentless about measuring your actions as you determine what is working and what is not. Evaluation gives you the feedback you need to determine where you need to allocate more time and where you need to adjust. Knowing you are on track gives you more time to schedule the next activities. That process tells you when to make changes in scheduling. It restores your control of your own time.
7. Be ruthless. Protect your time. There are all kinds of time vampires that threaten to get us off schedule. For most of us, people are the most important part of our business and personal lives, so we must protect our time so we can dedicate the right amount of time to the people most important to us.
What do you do on a regular basis that contributes to your time management success? Please leave us a comment we would love to know how you manage your time to be successful.
Planning your next event? Get in touch with us at the Capitol City Speakers Bureau today to schedule your ideal speaker and make your event a success!